During this climactic era of accelerating climate change, not only are we subject to rising oceans and exploding volcanoes and increasingly dramatic hurricanes and earthquakes, but in one of the most eerie scenarios of weather extremes, last summer fully 2/3 of this country experienced a prolonged drought. That included Bloomington, Indiana, and it forced us to start thinking of ways to begin to adapt to whatever nature serves up next.
What we came up with, besides drought-hardy plants (and that probably means more perennials) and water catchment — more ponds? rain barrels? A full-blown cistern? — is hugelkulture. And that’s what we decided to focus on during an event in the Green Acres Neighborhood Garden . . .
Here’s a video on the subject of irrigation versus the way permaculture works with water. For the hugelkulture part, start at about 3:58 minutes, and go for about 1.5 minutes.
In order to begin this project, we decided to repurpose logs from the big elm tree in the side yard cut down last week into the foundation of three hugelkulture beds in the GANG Garden.
P.S.: I started a hugelkulture bed last summer in a sort of half-assed way, plus, in my ignorance, some of the wood in it was treated! So Jim, the permaculture and Goddard student who lives in my house, demolished that bed, and we started over, first by digging out part of the beds.
I say we, but actually, so far it’s just been Jim, with a bit of help from Volker, next door. — Until last Sunday, that is, when we held a workshop in the GANG to both show how a hugelkulture bed is constructed and why, plus help us move more logs.
Here’s some photos documenting the process.
Our workshop and log work had lasted about three hours. During the time when everybody was discussing how best to move each log, I had been standing with my camera, recording the process and, weirdly enough, time after time just prior to someone suggesting an alternative method of one kind or another, I would see that method in my mind’s eye, like a little movie. It happened so often that I had to say something, and did. Told the group that I thought we were developing a group mind, and that I wouldn’t be surprised if this was happening to groups of people engaged in common projects world-wide.
I did notice, as the hours wore on, that the discussions became more and more flowing, equable, with the men finally listening to the women’s great suggestions!
Afterwards, we ate peas and rice and baked squash and locally produced coconut milk ice cream and downed some fabulous hard cider called “Angry Orchard.” And talked. Here’s the few who were still here after dark, all neighbors, riffing on how to get Green Acres Products going at the Farmer’s Market next year. What shall we produce? Herbs? Mulberry jam or jelly? The whole idea of marketing the neighborhood that way really stirred our fires. To be continued!